Wednesday, December 15, 2004

What is up in the Ukraine!

I spent 2 years on a church mission in Romania, one of the Ukraine's neighbors to the west. While Romania was the only Eastern European country to actually have a bloody revolution back when the Iron Curtain came crashing down, I never saw video coming out of Romania, an ethnically and religiously divided country, like I saw out of the Ukraine in their recent presidential elections.

There was widespread shameless voter fraud and intimidation at the polls, aimed at keeping the opposition candidate, Yushchenko, out of office.

Now we see that someone, somewhere poisoned Yushchenko with the toxin Dioxin. While there is no conclusive proof yet, it is looking like supporters from the other side of this race slipped Yushchenko the dioxin poisoning, possibly at a state dinner. Am I the only one thinking that this is the stuff movies are made of!

Knowing the general mentality of people in Eastern Europe, I would be willing to guess that the people who did this never dreamt that this poisoning incident would get the press it has received world wide. I'm afraid their entire plan has backfired on them, and they now stand to lose this election on December 26th by a landslide.

Let's pray they do! If Ukrainian politicians are anything like Romanian politicians, Yushchenko may not be much better than Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. However, even a small improvement would be worth the change.

In my opinion, any candidate backed by Putin, the guy who recently robbed Russians of locally voted representation by turning local governors into an appointed position rather than an elected position, taking Russia in a step backward toward dictatorship, is not someone we want in office.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Blue States, Red States, and Misleading Maps

It looks like the United States aren't as divided as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. would have us believe. Whether intentionally or not, the coverage of election/post-election demographics has been misleading. Specifically, the constant screen-flashing of the "red state blue state"-results map is a diservice to Americans. It leaves one with the impression that Bush won by some kind of landslide, Kerry supporters exist only on the fringe, conservatives own the "heartland," while liberals own the coast. These things, while widely accepted now, are gross oversimplifications. Compare the "red state blue state" map to the much more accurate representations (with descriptions) below:

The basic "red state blue state" map

This cartogram sizes the states/counties according to population instead of land (much more useful for voting conceptualization).

This map breaks the voting down by county and uses color gradation to reflect each county's political makeup and balance.

So here's what we really look like. When we take both population proportions and victory margins into account - we're... purple. This is, perhaps, the most accurate illustration of what U.S. voting "looks like." Contrast this with the "red state blue state" map, used by pundits to entrench us all in a belief of our "division." While no one is denying that some level of division exists, it's pretty clear that the "news" is not giving consumers even a remotely fair picture of political demographics.

Click on the title to this post for the source of these maps and in-depth analysis (A University of Michigan Website).